ENSENADA, Baja California, Mexico—Excitement is building with pre-running opening Saturday on a race-record 542.12-mile course as manufacturers and after-marketing companies are lining up with commitments that have pushed contingency totals for racers upwards of US$300,000 for the upcoming Golden Anniversary of the legendary BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500.
Round 2 of the four-race 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship will be held May 29-June 3. The celebratory internationally-televised race will start and finish in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, the seaside port on the Pacific Ocean, 80 miles south of San Diego.
To accommodate the much longer race course, SCORE has increased the time limit to be an official finisher and SCORE has also pushed back the start times on Saturday, June 2.
Official practice, or pre-running, on the official race course for this year’s BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 will begin on Saturday. Pre-running will start near race mile 38 and that section from the start to race mile 38 may only be run outbound on Thursday and Friday of race-week. For safety reasons new trails will be used for the race course in the Ojos Negros area.
Most the world’s best desert racers will be in action at this year’s celebration of the golden anniversary of one of the top 10 motorsports events in the entire world.
It is an elapsed-time race with staggered starts as the green flag on Saturday (June 3) will drop first for the motorcycles and quads at 3:30 a.m. (PDT) and approximately 8 a.m. (PDT) for the cars, trucks and UTVs. While the fastest vehicles are expected to finish in around 11 hours, all vehicles will have a 22-hour time limit from the time each starts to become an official finisher.
Over 350 vehicles, in classes for cars, trucks, utvs, motorcycles and quads, are expected at the start line with racers from as many as 30 U.S. States and 20 countries anticipated.
Race title sponsor BFGoodrich Tires has posted a US$25,000 contingency bonus to help commemorate this year’s race.
Topped by the large bonus for the overall winner by race title sponsor BFGoodrich Tires, nearly 40 companies have combined to push the total contingency bonuses available to date for racers to nearly US$300,000 in total value.
As in all forms of motorsports, contingency postings are a life blood for the racers who support their varied products.
Contingency donors support racers with either product, cash or both for top finishes in the over 50 classes for cars, trucks, utvs, motorcycles and quads.
Companies represent a wide range of the industry including many who are also are SCORE sponsors.
In addition to BFGoodrich Tires, other SCORE sponsors currently offering contingency programs as well for the racers are King Shocks, RACELINE Wheels and PCI Race Radios.
The total of 210 entries to date have come from 28 U.S. States, U.S. Territory-Puerto Rico along with host country Mexico, Argentina, Austria, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Peru and Spain.
States among the field range so far from California, Washington and Oregon in the Pacific West, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico in the Mountain West, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in the Northeast, Illinois, Ohio, South Dakota, Kansas and Texas in the Midwest and Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia in the South.
Leading the entries so far is the marquee SCORE Trophy Truck division for high-tech, 950-horsepower, unlimited custom trucks with 33 official entries as of today.
Included on the entry list so far in SCORE Trophy Truck are former SCORE Baja 500 overall winners Rob MacCachren (1996), Robby Gordon (1989, 1990, 2005 and 2013), B.J. Baldwin (2007), Carlos ‘Apdaly’ Lopez (2015) and Andy McMillin (2010 and 2017).
SCORE Trophy Truck, in its 25th year as the featured racing division in the sport, have been the overall winners of the SCORE Baja 500 for the last eight consecutive years and 13 of the last 14.
Other classes with double-figure entries so far are Pro UTV FI (Forced Induction) with 25 entries, Trophy Truck Spec with 20, Class 10 with 15, SCORE Lites with 12, the unlimited Class 1 with 12 also and Sportsman Moto with 11.
ONLINE RACER REGISTRATION
Online registration, by class, for Pro and Sportsman entries, is ongoing through the SCORE website. Information on all SCORE races can be found on the home page under the Race Info tab.
Official entries received after the drawing will be given the next available starting position within their respective classes. Online entries will be accepted until 8 p.m. (PDT) on Wednesday, May 23.
START ORDER/DRAW DEADLINE
The starting order within each class for this race will start with the finishing order from this year’s SCORE San Felipe 250, if the individual entry is received by Monday, May 21 and paid in full by May 23. For racers who were DNFs in San Felipe but enter by the deadline, a special drawing will be held for them prior to the other entries that come in for each class.
The deadline for those that raced in San Felipe to activate their reserved start position is 8 p.m. PDT on Monday, May 21. Deadline for all additional entries to be included in the drawing for starting positions is on 8 p.m. PDTWednesday, May 23. The results of the drawing, to determine the remainder of the start order within each class, will be held announced on Friday, May 25.
No new entries will be accepted after 8 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, May 23. Late, on-site racer registration will be held on Wednesday, Thursday andFriday (May 29-30, June 1) in Ensenada.
RECORD LONG COURSE
The Golden Anniversary course, designed and finalized by SCORE CEO/President Roger Norman and SCORE Race Director Jose A. Grijalva is an astounding race-record 542.12 miles. The course will run in a clockwise direction. The first and last 19.5 miles will be shared course outbound and inbound.
Starting and finishing once again in the heart of Ensenada in front of the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center, it will quickly leave the pavement and head up the spectator-friendly Ensenada Arroyo for two miles as it heads out of town. Upwards of 50,000 spectators are expected to watch the race in that area alone.
The historic race course is another memorable example of all that Mexico’s Baja California has to offer, including high-speed dirt trails, sandy, rocky and silty natural terrain, majestic Baja washes and canyons, stretches along the seashore with elevations from sea level to over 3,000 feet. The course will be another jewel reflecting the mesmerizing, stark beauty of Baja California.
This year’s anniversary course will have four physical checkpoints—Checkpoint No. 1-El Chinero, (Race Mile 174.20), Checkpoint No. 2-San Matias (RM 260.72), Checkpoint No. 3-Vicente Guerrero (RM 368.15) and Checkpoint No. 4-Santo Tomas (RM 466.83).
Reflecting on the course, Grijalva commented, “This is going to be the roughest, toughest, longest and most spectacular SCORE Baja 500 race course in its 50 years of existence without exception.”
Among the other towns, areas and landmarks the course goes through or near are Ensenada Arroyo, Ojos Negros, the Goat Trail, Valle de Trinidad, Diablo Dry Lake Bed, Las Cuevitas Wash, Mike’s Sky Rancho, Rancho El Coyote, Rancho Meling, Camalu, Colonet, Colonet Wash and Erendira .
Following last year’s epic celebration of the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000, this year’s SCORE World Desert Championship spotlights the special tribute to the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500.
The SCORE Baja 500 is one of the top motorsports events in the world. It was started originally in 1969 by the NORRA organization. Mickey Thompson and his SCORE International organization were invited by the Mexican government to take over the event in 1974. Sal Fish ran and later owned and produced the SCORE Baja 500 for 39 years until he sold SCORE to Roger and Elise Norman in December of 2012.
This year will be the 45th time the race has started and 41st time it will finish in Ensenada, the off-road capital of the world.
GRANDEST CO-GRAND MARSHALS
Legendary Hall of Fame former SCORE owner Sal Fish will join Hall of Fame retired racer Ivan Stewart as co-Grand Marshals for the 50th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500.
Fish, the ‘godfather’ of desert racing who ran SCORE from its Baja start in 1974 for 38 years through the end of the 2012 season joins the iconic ‘Ironman’ Stewart, who has 17 class wins (including 10 overalls) in the SCORE Baja 500, to share duties for the special golden anniversary race that they both have been such a major part of over the years.
Fish, who turned 79 on May 2 and Stewart will turn 73 on June 4.
Below is the four-race 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship schedule. For the third consecutive year all four races are being held in Baja California, Mexico. Here is the complete 2018 SCORE World Desert Championship schedule:
32nd SCORE San Felipe 250, April 4-April 8, San Felipe, Mexico
Official SCORE Sponsors: BFGoodrich Tires-Official Tire and official race title sponsor, Monster Energy-Official Energy Drink, King Shocks-Official Shock Absorber, Polaris RZR-Official UTV, RACELINE Wheels-Official Wheel, VP Racing Fuels-Official Fuel, Wide Open Excursions-Official Arrive and Drive Company, Crystal Bay Casino-Official Casino.
SCORE Official Partners: PCI Race Radios, 4 Wheel Parts, The Satellite Phone Store, Satellite Del Norte, Instant Mexico Auto Insurance, CETTO Vineyards.
Additional SCORE Associate Partners: Proturismo Ensenada, Baja California Secretary of Tourism, Baja California Sur State Government, Baja California Sur Secretary of Tourism, Mexicali Ayuntamiento, COTUCO Mexicali/San Felipe, Cruz Roja Mexicana, Corporate Helicopters, McKenzie’s Performance Products, Advanced Color Graphics.
Tijuana SCORE Desert Challenge Special Partners: XXII Ayuntamiento de Tijuana, Baja California State Secretary of Tourism, Comite de Turismo and Convenciones, Comite de Marcadotecnia Turistica, Asociacion de Hoteles del Noroeste.
For more information regarding SCORE, visit the official website of the SCORE World Desert Championship at www.SCOREInternational.com.
2018 SCORE World Desert Championship Race Contingency
2018 SCORE Contingency donors represent those manufacturers and other sport-related companies whose pledges for the 2018 BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 500 total over US$300,000 as of May 7.